Sunday, March 1, 2009

Advancing Medical Simulation

Tulane University School of Medicine has opened the Tulane Center for Advanced Medical Simulation and Team Training. The Center is a $3 million 14,000 square foot facility to provide comprehensive training for all health professionals in a realistic environment.

The Center replicates a hospital setting and features high fidelity life-sized robotic patients that can mimic the ailments and symptoms that hospital staff sees on a daily basis. The manikins breathe, move their eyes, speak, and have a variable pulse and heart rate. They can even react to doses of medication, receive intravenous therapy, and go into cardiac arrest and expire.

While Tulane’s Center features the latest in industry standard equipment, what sets it apart from other medical simulation centers is its emphasis on inter-professional team training. Instructors will use techniques developed in the military and aviation sectors to teach healthcare trainees and professionals to respond as a team to different scenarios and problems.

On the legislative front, Representatives Randy J. Forbes from Virginia and Patrick Kennedy from Rhode Island recently introduced the bill (H.R. 855) in the House to provide for research, new initiatives, and demonstration projects to improve the deployment of medical simulation technologies. H.R. 855 specifically instructs AHRQ to increase the use of simulation technologies and equipment in medical, nursing, allied health, podiatric, osteopathic, dental education, and training protocols.

The legislation also creates Medical Simulation Centers of Excellence to provide leadership, to do research on expanding the use of medical simulation technologies, and to serve as a resource center for knowledge on medical simulation.

The bill authorizes AHRQ to provide grants to purchase medical simulation technologies for training, to incorporate medical simulation technologies into curricula, and provides for grants to study simulation-based methods in credentialing and accreditation. The bill requests $50,000,000 for grants for FY 2010 and the same for FY 2011 through 2014.

The Act would also establish the Federal Medical Simulation Coordinating Council to coordinate the federal government’s activities in research, development, deployment, and utilization of medical simulation technologies.

H.R. 855 has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.